First Scots BME association seeks support for set-up
The first black and minority ethnic housing association in Scotland is calling on established housing associations to give it a leg-up amid concerns of ‘institutional resistance' to BMEs.Access Apna Ghar Housing Association has called on 30 Glasgow and west of Scotland associations to sell it up to 10 units each.Southside Housing Association has already pledged homes for Access Apna Ghar to manage a refugee resettlement project in a core BME settlement area in Glasgow. Plans for the first Scottish BME association have taken eight years to gestate, in contrast to the situation in England where 100 BME housing associations were helped into existence between 1985 and 1995.Despite around 10,000 asylum seekers having been dispersed to Glasgow it has been difficult to establish a viable BME association.Dave Le Sage, director of Access Apna Ghar, said it was difficult to establish a BME association because the system was geared towards setting up stock transfer associations. ‘There is institutional resistance insofar as there is no bespoke BME housing programme,' he said.‘There are no policy initiatives to promote a developing programme such as a BME to help it to break through.‘There may be no place for organically grown BMEs in the future. We are faced with the process of locating properties in the right areas and for the right price.'Mr Le Sage said Communities Scotland was listening and had helped Apna Ghar through £90,000 in seed corn funding, but the registration process remained an obstacle.‘I'd say that 90 per cent of new associations have been supported by Communities Scotland over the years. But the big corporate plan approach is not suitable for our needs. ‘Development organisations become viable overnight because they are large-scale builds sponsored by local authorities, whereas we are small and independently funded.'He added that the climate for new associations was difficult as established housing associations looked to consolidate through mergers.Communities Scotland spokesperson Bob Major confirmed the agency was working with Access Apna Ghar and funding its staff.‘We are working towards an organisation on behalf of potential tenants' needs. ‘Whether or not we're looking at a BME, we would look at the needs of that group and its uniqueness and ability to run an organisation,' he added.Scottish Federation of Housing Associations chief executive David Orr backed Access Apna Ghar's case.‘We have actively supported the establishment of Access Apna Ghar Housing Association and continue to support the work they are doing. We would hope that other housing associations will see the value in what they are proposing and will support them in whatever way they can.'"